By Christopher Wright
From its creation to its use today, the American flag has evolved into a symbol of liberty.
On September 3, 1777, Congress made the following resolution: “The flag of the United states shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white, with a union of thirteen stars of white on a blue field…” according to Encarta Encyclopedia.
Over 200 years later, today”s flag contains 50 five-pointed white stars, representing all 50 states in the country.
The Continental Congress defined the symbolic meaning of the colors red, white and blue early in the drafting of the flag”s design.
White signifies purity and innocence. Red represents hardiness and valor. Blue signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice, the encyclopedia said.
The creator of the first American flag and the exact date the flag was first flown still remain a mystery.
Historical research has failed to support the legend that George Washington and other prominent representatives of the United States came to the home of Betsy Ross and persuaded her to make the first American flag.
Some historians believe that Ross” grandson invented a fictional story regarding the making of the first flag in order to save his grandmother”s home in Philadelphia from a wrecking ball, said Neil York, a professor of history at BYU.
Each American has a different view of what the American flag represents.
“It”s one of those important symbols we”ve adopted to capture the meaning of American life,” York said.
Gary Daynes, a professor in the history department and American Heritage 100 teacher, said he believes the flag is the single most recognized symbol of the nation.
The flag is being displayed more frequently than in the past, whether it is on a t-shirt or on a resident”s front lawn, Daynes said.
The American flag was not always a powerful symbol of America, until early in the 20th century, Daynes said.
Daynes said he sees the flag being used in more and more commercialized and degrading ways.
For example, politicians using it to influence voters, or Maurice Green, United States Olympian, using it as some type of head-wrap.
American forefathers showed a great amount of reverence for the flag.
“Our flag is our national ensign, pure and simple, behold it. Listen to it. Every star has a tongue, every stripe is articulate,” said Robert Winthrop (1809-1894), former Massachusetts senator.
Ryan Call, a Navy reserve and BYU law student said he feels Americans should offer more respect to the flag.
“We should show respect for the flag because of what it represents,” Call said. “It represents the ideals of our country like freedom and opportunity.”